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Jan. 20, 2009

A letter to Lulu, my 17-month-old niece in San Diego.

I want you to understand what the world was like before you came and what is happening during your first, precious days.

As I sit and watch the pre-inauguration events unfolding on the steps of the U.S. Capitol, a few things strike me. Let me start with the snow we got last night. For the last few months, ever since Barack Obama was elected, I've been torn. See, the 20th day of January was on our school calendar as a teacher workday. All day yesterday, I kept asking, really, pleading, "How can I stay home to watch the inauguration, since I won't be able to get up to Washington, D.C.?" Now, perhaps you can see where I'm going with the snow.

A trip to Target yesterday to pick up prescriptions was a madhouse. If you live in the South, the mere mention of snow sends everyone into hoarding and panic mode. You will not find any milk on any shelves around here. It is always milk and bread. Milk? For cereal, I guess? Milk, because it can be kept in the snow when the power goes out? As I was leaving Target I was listening to NPR, as I always do, and a poetry reading was taking place. "Because of You" was being read as a tribute to our new president, a poem whose gist is that because you are who you are (Obama), I can become what I'm supposed to be or can or wish to be. I cried.

So, here I am, getting my prayer. I am in front of a fire I made, watching the pre-inauguration festivities unfold. Each time another step is made to put in power this man who seems to hold a nation's hopes in his hands, another tear falls like the snow outside. I am so grateful to have this day to celebrate something so momentous. I am suddenly proud enough to think that I could bring a child into this world, whereas before, fear was my dominant emotion regarding that topic. I now feel hopeful for some serious goodness and revamping of this nation and our relationship with the world. I then think about the little lady who has taken my heart (you) and am thrilled beyond belief that she may grow and learn and love and play and dream in a world that will have boundless opportunity.

Thank you, Obama. Thank you, America, for your votes. And thank you, universe, for snow. It matches my tears of hope so well, each flake a different shape, each person today with a different joy and hope, a different world they woke up into today. My inauguration day was bathed in a rare, beautiful white: hope, clean, clear slate, ready to melt and move forward. Water is the stuff of life; snow provides that in a cool way. Politicians are the stewards of our lives; Obama will provide this guidance in a cool way, not cold like snow, but cool like the Miles Davis of Washington, D.C.

Love, Aunt Little Bill

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